Facebook group helps women affected by Essure


by Claudia Coffey


Posted on November 27, 2013 at 12:55 AM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 27 at 6:08 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It's supposed to be one of the most effective forms of permanent birth control.

It's called Essure and it's considered a less invasive procedure than women having their tubes tied or undergoing a hysterectomy, but as Claudia Coffey found out, thousands of women are having irreversible side effects, nausea, pain, depression and some are even getting pregnant after it was implanted.

It's a mommies club that these women never expected to be a part of. They all met on Facebook, but not for a reason any of them saw coming. All of them had the permanent birth control device Essure and then, all of them started having what they called horrible side effects.

"When you wake up, it feels like you were hit by a Mack truck. I'm not kidding. Your whole body hurts," Kira Abrams said.

"Bloating, headaches and nausea all the time. Everyday . Everyday. There's some days that I have to take medication so I don't get sick," Christy Lee agreed.

"I have this nerve that has shooting pains down my leg. It's just shooting, shooting all the time," Angie Meither said.

This is the story we heard over and over from women that contacted WHAS11.

These women from across Kentuckiana said Essure sounded like a perfect fit for them. The women all have kids and wanted a permanent birth control, but one that was not so invasive as other options. This was something that could be done in the office,  less than an hour and you are back at home, but they said as little as three months later, painful problems begin.

Christy Lee from Fairdale, suffered massive bleeding, an infection and had to be hospitalized.
"I have been to the clinic many times complaining of pain, infections and heavy bleeding for months at a time. I have had to be put on birth control to control the bleeding," she said.

Kira Abrams from Cincinnati, suffers from constant anxiety, depression, back pain and fatigue and one of her coils actually came out.

"My left one fell out, so I had to get a second set put in on my left side," Abrams said.

Angie Meither probably got the biggest shock of all. Less than a year after getting Essure,"I went to the hospital and that's when she did an ultrasound and she said that I was pregnant. Then, I got in the fetal position and was so shocked . . . and then she said oh there's another one. It was just, wow. Twins. Two sacks," Meither said.

Essure is a non-surgical procedure. It deploys using a small coil-like device that is inserted into the fallopian tubes. Those coils contain fibers which trigger inflammation and then scarring which seals off tubes in two to three months. Conceptus first owned Essure and it lined up celebrity spokespeople to endorse it, like Bachelorette Trista Sutter.

All of the women we spoke to went back to their doctors to complain, but they said their concerns fell on deaf ears, but soon, they learned they were not alone. Thousands of women are complaining of the same concerns.

They have a Facebook page and a well-known attorney on their side. Erin Brockovich has launched a petition to start a class-action lawsuit. For these women, this was the answer they have been waiting for.

"The other symptoms that I have are terrible and they totally take away from your quality of life. When they put these in us, it totally killed us. It totally killed us," Kira Abrams said.

University of Louisville OB/GYN Dr. Tanya Franklin doesn't treat any of these woman. She said she has performed the procedure on at least 20 of her patients and none have had problems.

"The risk of having Essure is going to be the risk of having any kind of surgical procedure. There is risk of bleeding, there is risk of infection, risk of damage to the fallopian tubes, damage to the uterus. Those don't change . . .  I think a lot of the complaints from women are around side effects you would normally see with any kind of procedure," Dr. Franklin said.

Essure has since been sold to Bayer and they issued this statement: "At Bayer, we care about patients and take the safety of our products very seriously.  We are saddened to hear of any serious health condition affecting a patient using one of our products, irrespective of the cause. Essure was approved by the FDA in 2002, and has a well-documented benefit-risk profile."

For Kira, Christy and Angie, they feel like they are faced with either lifelong pain or being forced to get a hysterectomy. Not something they imagined undergoing at their age.

If you just get them out of me, I will be the happiest person alive. Just get them out of me. That's all I'm asking," Abrams said.

Essure can be reversed but it is costly and not covered by insurance. It can cost from $4,000 - $6,000.